I have had a few comments of unease about the identificaiotn of God’s people as ‘an army’. I made this identification recently in the video casts in Revelation. I understand the right concern, and the use of any language has to be questioned. Just because something is ‘biblical’ does not mean we should use it. If the language has been hijacked then we have to either find other language or seek to rescue the language. we also face this with ‘kingdom’ as it was the same word that was used for ‘empire’.
The army of Revelation is defined as those who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. The lamb slain is so central to Revelation. John hears that the Lion has overcome but sees a Lamb. The sight gives meaning / reinterprets what is heard.
Jesus himself said that if his kingdom’s source was an earthly one then his followers would take up the sword.
Western Christianity, wedded to the empire, does not have a good history and the resentment to (e.g.) the crusades we might not understand – it happened so long ago after all – is something that is still alive for many.
It seems to me that Revelation radically re-interprets what it is to be an army, to exercise authority or to have power. Being overcome is a key to overcoming. Even when he comes, riding on the white horse, his garments are dipped in blood: I think we will find it is his own blood.
There is a judgement to come. A judgement of all that is evil and opposed to the loving purposes of God. He will judge and do what is right. We do not take things into our own hands.
So in the light of this book our understanding of ‘spiritual warfare’ has to include losing our lives for the sake of the Gospel.
Language is challenging but the concepts in the book are more so.